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New 22nd Street S restaurant celebrates its first anniversary

By JON WILSON, Consulting Editor, TB Reporter

Chief’s Creole Café is part of revitalization taking place in the heart of The Deuces. 

ST. PETERSBURG — One of the latest hometown businesses on 22nd Street S has celebrated its first anniversary this month. Chief’s Creole Café has proven to be a popular eating spot for a diverse crowd of patrons, affirming the confidence that owners Elihu and Carolyn Brayboy placed in the heart of the city’s historic African-American main street.

It is situated in the old Harden’s Grocery Store and the George Washington beer garden on 22nd Street S and Ninth Avenue. The Brayboys, who grew up in The Deuces neighborhood, took on the restoration project themselves because backers were scarce.  They cleaned up the property and opened a destination restaurant that is part of the 22nd Street revival. Their nearest neighbors include the Carter G. Woodson Museum of African American History, Gallery 909, the Midtown campus of St. Petersburg College and Deuces BBQ.

To launch the project, the Brayboys worked with the Greenhouse, a small-business resource center. They took every applicable workshop and training opportunity, worked with a mentor, participated as a business partner in the Eckerd Internship Project and met with St. Petersburg city staff frequently to prepare themselves for operating a new business. They accessed capital for the project through Greenhouse partner, the Tampa Bay Black Business Investment Corp.

The restaurant is named for Elihu Brayboy’s mother, Mary Brayboy Jones, who was nicknamed “Chief.”  Mrs. Jones was a talented woman who was a nurse at Mercy and Bayfront Hospitals during segregation. She was also employed by the Eckerd College Student Medical Center. Mrs. Brayboy Jones was born in Louisiana where she first learned to cook Creole style from her own mother. That legacy is reflected in the restaurant menu.

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